The Super Obvious Networking Opportunity You May Be Overlooking
“Sometimes opportunities float right past your nose. It is important that you work hard, apply yourself, and always be ready so that when an opportunity comes you can grab it.” – Julie Andrews
People tend to ignore the obvious in their environment. This is because they have not unlocked the screen of their mind to certain opportunities.
We visit many places, overlook them and fail to see the enormous opportunities they promise to give. In life, we have to learn to seize the passing moments which are big with fate from Opportunity’s extended hand.
Sometimes, we look too high for things close by, we travel far to seek things that are right under our noses, and we dig too deep searching for diamonds which are having a sunbath on the sand.
There are great opportunities to network, but could there be a networking opportunity you may be overlooking?
Are you covering every base when it comes to increasing the circumference of your professional circle?
The good news is that you are already on the right path if you’re consistently networking.
But the not-so-good news is that you may be overlooking some vast opportunities that if utilized, will take your networking fame and prowess to the next level.
There’s probably one obvious place with so much promise that you have constantly overlooked — and it’s where you currently work.
Many professionals usually take advantage of the many opportunities to network outside of their workplace, but they, however, underestimate the significance of networking at work. Many people don’t see the numerous opportunities where they work because they think it is not necessary to engage other employees in conversations apart from what directly concerns the company they work for.
But did you know that networking within your company could be key to developing new skills and identifying opportunities for advancement in your career?
WHY DO YOU NEED TO NETWORK AT WORK?
“Opportunities multiply as they are seized.” – Sun Tzu
Before you run all around the place and strain your nerves trying to build networks with hundreds of strangers, think about your workplace. Do you really know other employees in your company? How many of them do you really know? Even more importantly, do they know who you are, and what kind of skills you have?
You may want to ask why you need to view the opportunities your workplace presents from another perspective and in a different light.
There are two major reasons why you need to network at work.
Little effort, great expansion
If you take a statistics of people at your workplace, you will find that many of your team members have probably had some experience working at somewhere else before.
This means that not only are they potential people to join your network, but they also have friends and colleagues who you never knew before.
With just the people at your workplace, you can get a whole new world inhabited by lots of others you’ve never even met. If you invite your colleagues to join your network, you also indirectly invite people that he knows—members of his family, previous co-workers, friends, etc.
Your network will no longer grow in an arithmetic progression. Be prepared for a geometrical increase!
So when next you grab some coffee or lunch with someone you work with, you’re not just learning more about them, but you’re also expanding your own network.
More network, more value
With more networking, you can add more value to yourself at your current workplace. When you network, you tend to build new skills, explore other areas of interest with little or no risks, and improve on your current skills. With all these values added to yourself, you can build up your reputation in the office.
Networking entails learning about other teams and their work. When you do this, they begin to see your values and potential thereby increasing the probability that they will join your network. The more helpful you prove to be, the more your fame and reputation will grow at the office as someone who is always willing to help and knows his stuff well.
So, try to create space for networking in your schedule and use this opportunity to reach out to people who work in your office or company.
Make new friends, and get to know them pretty well. If you constantly do this, with time, you’ll have a huge network right there in your office and this surely will move you to the next level in your business.
HOW TO BUILD THE NETWORK AT YOUR WORKPLACE
Since you now know about the treasures in your workplace, would you like to have a detailed plan on how to hunt for these treasures?
If you need new connections that will shoot you to the stars, you will find it very beneficial to read on and discover how you can use some networking tips right there in your workplace.
“I get by with a little help from my friends.” – John Lennon
The main aim of networking is to make friends. Everybody thinks it is quite easy to be friendly. In reality, the reverse is the case.
You could be so caught up in work, planning to meet deadlines etc. that you forget to meet somebody new, or forget every important detail you learned about the people you met. It is very easy to forget to pay much attention to your surroundings.
Whether it’s in a hallway or an elevator, you have to take deliberate actions to make friends, remember their names and involve them in conversations.
Dale Carnegie, the master of communication gives in his book “how to win friends and influence people” some tips that could transform your method of communication and can determine how quickly you can make new friends.
Some of these principles are:
- Become genuinely interested in other people
- Remember their name
- Be a good listener
- Encourage others to talk about themselves
- Talk in terms of the other person’s interest
- Make the other person feel important and do it genuinely.
You can watch the summary and insights on how to win friends and influence people on this video:
If you apply these principles in your everyday relationships, you’ll be amazed by how easily and quickly you make friends and sell your ideas to them. If you want to be more likable and friendly, you can read this article on how to be a better co-worker.
When new employees come to your workplace, you have to give them a good first impression they will remember. When you have a chance to get a good first impression, use it well!
Research has shown that when you meet someone new, such a person judges you in about four seconds, finalizing his judgment largely within 30 seconds of the initial contact. First impressions could go a long way in determining if you will win friends or not.
To learn more about the importance of first impression and personal branding in business, see
You could also check out this video on how to make a great first impression.
This video will teach you how to end conversations without appearing awkward, how to brag without bragging and lots more!
Welcoming newcomers could be the easiest networking tip of all. This, of course, is because we usually look forward to meeting new people and they are also excited to meet us (in most cases). New co-workers are usually excited because they got the job and love to meet others and get some guidance.
You can guide them in matters as simple as telling them which floor has the best coffee, what lunch is best prepared, etc. You can even offer to take them out to lunch someday. It is important to gain a good first impression with newcomers because, even if your co-worker is new to your office, they were probably hired because they had valuable experiences. Ensure you ask them about their background.
They may have previous experiences in areas you really want to learn more about, or you may even discover that you have similar interests.
In helping newcomers, try to keep your advice and tips harmless and useful. Also, let them know that you’re always open to any question they may have.
If you apply the first rule of making friends, your colleagues will say a lot of good things about you to those new employees.
Offer to help the newcomers with something. Perhaps you see the newcomer fumbling with the computer set-up for a meeting, you could ask to lend a hand.
If you see them searching for a seat in a crowded room, you could wave your hand and offer them one next to you.
Then as will be discussed in the next tip, ask an open-ended “who,” “what,” “why” or “when” question to encourage a conversation.
Take advantage of lunch
If you would like to build your business network where you work, it might not be a good idea to eat your lunch in isolation in your office, or only with close office buddies. It is actually a great idea to occasionally eat lunch with other employees in the common break room.
When you get to the lunchroom, don’t give in to the temptation to isolate yourself in a corner. Ask someone if you can sit with them. While eating lunch, you could bring up a great conversation or talk about an interesting topic with them. Keep the discussion light and avoid issues that will bring about arguments.
If you have already met the person you’re sitting with, you could use that opportunity to talk in a less formal capacity.
Even though it might be important to strike a conversation with employees in the lunchroom, you have to choose the person you sit with strategically. Read the signs. Not everyone in the lunch room is ready for a conversation. If you see someone sitting at a table with their nose in a book, they probably want to be left alone.
Also, be sensitive to reading body languages and response. If you sit next to someone and start a conversation, read their response.
You’ll know quickly if they welcome the conversation or not. If you would like to be an expert in reading body languages and influencing people, you can see this video:
The way you start a conversation determines if it will continue or end awkwardly. The first step to starting a conversation is to keep it simple and engaging. Don’t start the conversation by saying hello and introducing yourself because it could lead to an awkward silence afterward.
To break the ice, you must choose questions or statements that will put the person at ease and not make the person uncomfortable. Be yourself and the other person will feel more at ease. To engage the other person in a fulfilling conversation, ask open-ended questions.
For example, you could ask “what do you think of the food,” or “could you tell me what you enjoy about your work here?”
These questions will get the other person to talk and you’ll get to know more about them. You should keep the question or statement in the positive framework.
For example, avoid complaining about the food, (that individual may be friends with the caterer, you never can tell!) also, don’t say anything derogatory about the location, the company or anyone else.
Discuss the weather or non-political current events like movies, big news, sports teams, etc. Try to stay up-to-date on current happenings around the world so you can ask intelligent follow-up questions when discussing a big news event that happened.
It is important to stay away from controversial topics (like politics) until you know each other better.
After the general conversations, you should get the other person talking about themselves by asking all the right kinds of questions to encourage them to open up about their feelings and opinions.
Take advantage of LinkedIn
Most of your colleagues are on LinkedIn and you’re most probably on it too. If you’re not, your networking will not be as effective as it should be. LinkedIn is a great professional community, unlike most other social media.
LinkedIn could help you learn more about your co-workers without infringing into their personal life. Without even asking them, you will learn much about their professional life.
There’s a great probability that you’ll learn something interesting about each and every one of your colleagues when you dive into their LinkedIn page. You can then connect with them to start building networks.
Sometimes the connections you share with your colleagues will surprise you.
When you look at their page, you begin to see the skills and people that the two of you share. In the world of networking, you have to make real connections with people—a lot of people.
With such strong connections to the people within your own organization, you have the most valuable resources surrounding you on a daily basis. With the right networking, you will be of great benefits to yourself and others. Help yourself by saying hi and networking with your current co-workers.
Pay attention to office invites
When there is a party or get-together in the office or something along that line, do well to attend. To own a great network in the office, you can’t afford to be an introvert. You must love to spend some time with people.
Such invitations should not be turned down because they are great opportunities to meet people and be met. If you really want to meet people in your office and connect with them, accept the next email invite that comes through.
This is because it may be an opportunity to meet with people in completely different departments where you don’t know a lot of people.
Also, if there is an opportunity to actively participate in such events (like volunteering and charity events), involve yourself in it.
You could suggest offering to head up the effort if you are very familiar with those events. If you head the volunteering team, you’ll have to recruit people thereby making new connections while coming across as a leader and a helpful person.
If you don’t know much about the events your company is involved in, you could ask a colleague if you can work together on that project.
For example, you could tell the person “You did such a wonderful job with the fund-raising committee last year. Would you like me to join you this year?” Lively conversations are most likely to develop from this question.
See office invites as opportunities and not as unwanted obligations.
Your workplace is a goldmine. Your mind and eyes should we wide open to the great opportunities there.
The ability to notice these opportunities when you see them could determine how big a network you can have.
Remember, you attract what you think.
I really do hope these tips helped. See you at the top.